31 December 2010

Yeasayer- (free) Live Album

I like Yeasayer, brilliant live band, and the albums are good too (prefer the first to the second). The band are offering a live album for a 'how much doyou want to pay' (including free) from their website.

Click Here.

Love, B

Movies of the past week

Nothing like variety eh? And so a brief summary of the rubbish, deplorable, and quite good flicks that have graced our TV recently.

House 1977 Japanese
This movie was odd, and beautiful. The lead character, Gorgeous, sets off with her friends to her Aunt's house in the country, with her cat. And that's the simple easy to follow plot summary.
the cat becomes important, there are special effects with bright lights, people die. Actually most of the girls die. There is screaming. And most importantly, a piano eats someone.
I loved it. It's funny, it's surreal, and is definitely worth seeing.
Definite parallels with some of the studio ghibli work, for some reason certain scenes and development reminded me of howl's moving castle.

Dr Tarr's Torture Chamber (aka The Mansion of Madness) 1973

Oh dear god this was bad. For badly explained family reasons a journalist wants to find out about some therapy being done in a mental hospital. Things turn bad immediately, and a number of surreal hokey bolloxy episodes drag you through the 90 minutes. Painful. The mental hospital had been taken over by the inmates, which doesn't become clear until about halfway in. At which point the strangeness goes up several notches.
I kinda enjoyed it, but for those of you who like bgrade rubbish, it's a 6-7/10. the oddness is very odd.
For the rest of you, 2/10.

Inception I rewatched it, to see if I'd change my opinion that's its overblown rubbish. Nope. Still think that. Concept is great, but everything is so hamfisted and over-explained. I still think that an indie movie, with a smaller budget, may have achieved a more cohesive story than this.
I've seen a review recently which summed Inception up as 'a movie to make stupid people feel smart'.

Hour of the Wolf 1968.
Touted as Bergman's only horror movie, I'd originally bought this for Halloween, but we ended up not watching it.
I really enjoyed this. It seemed very typical Bergman, moody lighting, slow pans, low action quotient. The main character, an artist, suffers from insomnia and thinks a lot of the weirdo's he's seeing are imaginary. These appear to be representations of his insecurities, which makes the death of the young boy either homosexuality or paedophilia?
The other inhabitants of the island are upper-class party-goers, who invite the artist and his wife for dinner. The group explore ownership of people by purchasing their art, mainly to rile the artists wife.
Told from the wife's perspective, in a pseudo-documentry fashion, the movie seems to be a long rant against consumer driven art.
It's slow, and at times violent, but worth watching.

Rewatched Monty Python's Life of Brian, Captain Blood and Godfather II, and I may spin Gainsbourg this afternoon.

Albums ofthe year is coming along nicely.

27 December 2010


There's other stuff coming up - I guess I'll rip a top10 albums or something like that together at some stage. Without thinking about it there's Americana, Classical and Symphonic Metal in there somewhere. And maybe some movie reviews, since that's all I've been doing the last few days.

I've just finished catching up on the winter season of Imagine. Pick of which was the Ray Davies (the Kinks) interview, fascinating stuff about a very underrated songwriter. Back in highschool when we were discovering the Kinks, Beatles, Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, there was something about Davies' lyrics that painted better pictures, for me at least.

There was also a doco on Springsteen and the making of Darkness on the Edge of Town. I think playing these two back to back clarified my problems with Springsteen. He's a very direct songwriter, as much as he claims there are layers in his songs, I can't find them. This could be just be me. Darkness is a great classic rock album, but it's not one I'd keep in my collection if forced to downsize. The songs are uniformly excellent, but they lack lyrical interest. Sure, they are honest stories of the usual people populating Springsteen songs, and the characters are believable, but they don't seem to go anywhere.
But what I found interesting was Springsteen saying they were going for more a stripped back, open, panoramic sound. Compared to Born to Run, yes they achieved that. But oddly it's one of my complaints with the album, it's too claustrophobic. The songs don't breath, and more importantly they don't have the dusty Americana sound that Springsteen says they have. This may just be a lack of experience in the production booth, and Springsteen said as much in the doco, but my pick is that it's the E Street Band. I think they ruin what potentially could have been another brilliant Springsteen solo album. If asked to list my favourite albums of his, I'd go with Ghost of Tom Joad; Nebraska; Dust and Devils. In that order. All of them are sparse, ghostly, tumbleweeds of albums. And for that reason are far more affecting, personally speaking, than BtR or Darkness. For me they manage to imbue the lyrics with the dusty space his characters need to exist.

So watching the two documentaries did, I think, help clarify why Springsteen seems to leave me cold. Davies managed to keep things interesting, no matter what he was writing about, and the topics were similar - local people living small lives. But Davies' kept that unique English style of whimsy in the background (I'm not sure whimsy describes Lola, but otherwise it seems an ok choice of word). Springsteen, I think, tries to engage too much, too autobiographical?, and I think I prefer the more observational style of song writing. I do think Springsteen does manage a more stand-offish approach in the acoustic solo albums.

Is this just me? I know I'm in the minority for not liking Springsteen much :)
Just to ruin any image that I was thinking about this post, I've got Def Lep's extended mixes blasting in the cans at the mo'.

Here's Racing in the Streets covered by Roger Taylor (Queen) from his album 'Strange Frontier'.

And Ghost of Tom Joad


11 December 2010

More stats and other stuff

It's been an oddly productive day, I've gone for a nice long walk, got some stuff organised, cooked a (quite frankly) superb dinner, acquired a nice headache, and now watching 500 days of summer. Which is quite enjoyable. Thinking about movie number two for the evening, may be Pt 2 of Mesrine, or an Errol Flynn. Such are the problems of my life.

I've also configured a lot of stuff on my linux laptop, so I can sync back to last.fm from my apple formatted ipod. This was a lot easier than I remember it, which is good. This has been forced on my as the mac is in need of some repairs, that I haven't gotten around to doing yet. Anyway, it's now synching up against last.fm and things will be back to normal, well until I fix the mac then I'll have to go through it all again.

Currently pondering the Xmas movie line-up. We've got a few candidates.
Inception - I didn't like it, but S hasn't seen it. And it may improve on re-watching.
Hausu (House) 1977

And the possibles:
Dr Tarr's Torture Dungeon

Season of the Witch

Although I don't think that's out yet here. But it looks really bad. Really really bad.

or maybe, Rare Exports A Christmas Tale


10 December 2010

Statistics and why news paper reports are a load of shite

A pet peeve, and believe me, there are plenty, is the use of statistics in newspaper journalism. Basically if you see the word 'increase' or 'percentage' written anywhere, it's generally safe to assume the paper has it wrong. You'd expect this in the tabloid papers, but this report comes from the Guardian.
So yes, I'm ranting against the Guardian.

Titled, on the website, Sharp Rise in Number of Women Killed by Violent Partners (paper version: Murders of partners by men rise sharply), the article claims that there has been a dramatic rise in deaths by partners. Reading the article provides the following:
2009 - 101 deaths
2008 - 72 deaths
As a raw percentage increase, this is, on the face of it, shocking: a 40% increase over one year. Which is obviously how the refuge charity 'Refuge' was trying to sell this.

However, let's put this in context, looking at the UK population figures (reference here):
2009 - 61,792,000
2008 - 61,398,000
Putting the death figures as a percentage of the total population:
2009 - 0.000163452 %
2008 - 0.000117268 %
I realise I shouldn't be using percentages here, but without the raw data to work from, it should do to make my point.
There is very little difference between these two figures, In fact, if I round to 3 decimal places, they are identical. This is due to the total UK population being so large that a number of 101 becomes insignificant from 72.

Indeed, run any statistical analysis of those numbers and you'll find there is no statistical difference between the two years.
there has been no dramatic rise in murders by partners when put into context of both population. What has happened is that there has been an increase in absolute numbers.
What might be more interesting would be to analyse the increase over a longer time period, as the data, as presented, can be interpreted as ' a 0.6% population increase appears to lead (but not cause?) to a greater increase in partner murders', or you could interpret the data as 'a 0.6% population increase leads to a 0.00004 (rounded)% increase in partner murders'. What you cannot say is that there has been a dramatic rise in murders.


6 December 2010

Whisky Cabal Meeting 2

After the superb kick off, where none of us died, the Cabal assembled for round two. As things turned out, this was essentially an SMWS mix, with only one 'normal' release. I'm sure we made noises about cutting down the number of whiskies tasted, but somehow we ended up with another 7 cask strengths ....

SMWS 2.78 Kissed up by sweet promises 21yo Dist 06/88, refill butt, ex-sherry (Glenlivet) 1 of 512 bottles, 58.4%

Nose: citrus, lime, wine, sweet
Palate: dark chocolate and orange, very sweet, cough lollies   [note: most of this was lost with water]
Finish: med long, sweet, hotter with water.

Remembering our group is quite tough, 7/10 neat, and due to most of the flavour dropping out with water, 6/10 with water.
It's not a bad whisky, especially neat, but we felt it is overpriced, and doesn't deliver what we expected from a 21yo cask. Personally, I felt it lacked complexity and was similar to other Glenlivet's I'd tasted. It's not a brand I like much.

SMWS 121.39 Easy drinking dream Distilled Nov 95, 14yo, refill hogshead, ex-bourbon (Isle of Arran). 54.9% 1 of 350 bottles.

Nose: golden syrup, honey, sweet, toffee   - adding water increase the sweet ginger and 'cakey'-ness
Palate: sweet, thick, ginger, gingersnaps, manuka honey, crunchie/honeycomb
Finish: hot, medium length, ginger

We loved this. 8/10. It's reasonably cheap (45 quid) and its definitely worth picking up a bottle. To the point where I'm very tempted myself.

Edradour OB Decanter 13yo Sherry cask (more details maybe added later).
The LFW link is for the current expression.

Nose: toffee, treacle, leather (ya Gran's funeral - yes, we may have been on the third and getting more eloquent), honey, musty
Palate: sherry, honey, sweet, marzipan
Finish: med-long, honey. water increased the heat.

7/10 from our merry bunch. I'd rate it a little higher myself, but it did suffer a little after the 121.39 which was damn good.

SWMS 9.53 A peppery explosion Dist Apr 91, 19yo, refill ex-bourbon hogshead, 1/256 bottles, 56.% (Glen Grant)
Nose: sweet, banana, new leather
Palate: peppery, very sweet, burns, tangelos
Finish: med-long

I like Glen Grant, so this one was a bit of a disappointment, not much was happening. Addition of water brought out the hidden depths we all wanted. A much stronger fruity lime taste started coming through, which was very nice. 
Neat: 5.5/10  and addition of water 7.5/10
Was interesting how water ruined the first dram, and made this one. good lesson there...drink more.

SMWS 13.43 Mediaeval combat dram 19yo, 59.2%, dist. Oct 88, 1/576 bottles (Dalmore) 
Nose: peanuts, (what the fuck is that smell?), sweet, corked wine, sulphur, marshmallows, new carpet, olives
Palate: eggy toffee, honey, smooth
Finish; very short
7/10. the SMWS description is about right for this one. I'm not sure our intrepid taster actually worked out what the smell was...

We had a second dram of An Artists' Retreat, which was reviewed at the first tasting. And you'll be pleased to know, we still love it.

SMWS 18.30 Hippie dram dist Feb85, 24yo, refill ex-bourbon hogshead, 1/221 bottles, 45.5% (Inchgower)
My notes by this point are getting more illegible, but that's the hits you take as an gonzo journalist.

Nose: honey, custard, white sauce (fish), eggy, brandy sauce (addition of water: bread dough)
Palate: nothing, 
Finish: nothing startling, very short. 
We may have had a few too many by this point, but it only got a 5/10. I reckon it may need more tasting...possibly without the overly strong whiskies before it.

Again, no-one died. So that's another win. Superb line-up of whisky, it's almost a shame putting them up against each other, as they would seriously kick ass against more normal competition.

We are planning a third tasting early January, somewhere in the wilds of Derbyshire. And in the meantime I may yet have a wee dram or two up in Edinburgh. And some over Christmas. 


the peak of life

My ipod sync system is a bit screwed at the moment. And so to keep last.fm up to date, I'm using spotify to sync the played tracks up.

This is, and there's no other word for it, sad.

10 hours of sync'd playlists will go through today, and much the same for the next few days. There's roughly a weeks worth of music to do.

How exciting is my life. So while playing Coltrane on Spotify, I'm listening to Frost* on the ipod. Rad.


5 December 2010

Bowed but not beaten, the dishwashing saga and other ramblings

It's been awhile since I did a newsy blog, and before you all panic, yes there's a whisky one a comin' soon. Obviously it's been busy, with with Assange crashing in the spare room, but you know, you do what you can for the Aussies...  [yes ok, I'm aiming to up readership with that]

Word of the week, possibly fortnight, has been chilly. With overtones of snowy. The white stuff that floats down, not canines or nasal condiments. We've had a reasonable fall around here, certainly more than last year. So I can confidently say, as far as I'm concerned, it's the coldest winter on record. As appears usual, winter has caught the British unawares, and the infrastructure has collapsed, again. Trains, buses, schools, cars have all succumbed to the cold and stayed indoors. Although in their defence, it apparently has been rather cold in Europe too, even the Germans and Scandinavians have been suffering. Go have a look at the BBC or any other news outlet for pictures.
I had to visit Birmingham last week for a training course. This became quite tricky when the two trains I was going to use were cancelled. However, it appears most cross country trains head to B'ham, so I got there on time. And just in time for a severe snow storm as I wandered to the venue. Fun. Actually it was quite nice wandering up in the snow. I didn't get much chance to wander around B'ham, but what I did see in the city centre seemed nice so may wander back at some point and have a better look around.

Wednesday of the training session, I nipped out a couple of hours early as I had to get London for the National gig at the Brixton O2. This was superb. Very simple stage layout, just the band and some projections, all very effective. Hard to single out highlights, but everything I wanted to hear was played, and a nice mix of all the albums. I've heard them described by Americana, and I guess that's kinda right, but more in the Nick Cave interpretation of Americana than, say, Iron and Wine or Wilco. Their lyrics are dark and subtle, with the singer an interesting mix of Nick, possibly Crash Test Dummies, but with the ability to scream. Lyrically I probably prefer The National to Nick, at least for consistency.
Albums to try, the new one (high violet) is slightly more upbeat than previous, but you can't go wrong starting with Boxer. Unlike some bands, you can't go wrong with anything from them.
Here's the video to the first single from the current album 'High Violet'

The National - "Bloodbuzz Ohio" (official video) from The National on Vimeo.

Admittedly getting back to B'ham was 'tricky'. Trains were delayed and rerouted, meaning I ended up arriving back at the accomodation around 3am.

I got dragged to Harry Potter by S. It's no worse than I expected, however in places it almost makes Star Wars Ep1 look good. Nothing happens, no characters are developed, although jar-jar is knocked off, there is no plot, and it's still (in keeping with #1 and 2 which I have seen) lurches from scene to scene with no attempt to link. I know it's a kids film, but really, why stretch it to 2h30min? I barely survived, and even I felt sorry for the kids watching it.
Highlights? Ron making a comment along the lines of 'Don't tell Hermionineininieniene but those snatches are quite easy' - awesome, I laughed, tho appeared to be the only one in the theatre doing so. There was a moment when it looked like Harry was going to get his wand out, but then he dived into cold water, reducing the impact somewhat.

The dishwasher and I have had discussions over the last couple of weeks. I decided it would be good to run the dishwasher at night, say 5am, using cheap electricity. I knew the dishwasher had a delay button on it (3, 6 and 9hr), and so after *reading the manual* (interpret how you will), I set it up to start in 9 hours time. It started promptly and went through its cycle. Discussions ensued, and we left each other alone, both knowing this wasn't finished.
Last night I tried again. Success was within reach, I set everything, I switched it on and shut the door. Nothing. Woohoo! I had won. Technology was my bitch. Cristal was poured and fireworks lit. Needless to say the fucker was teasing. I checked the machine this morning, although it had delayed itself, it hadn't actually gotten around to starting 12hrs after I set it, for a 9 hr wait.
Watch this space for Round 3.

Love, B

28 November 2010

Cooking with Bruce : Vege tart and feta

We've had some snow, not masses, but certainly more than a dusting. Quite chilly, but nice day today - went for a wander around some snow covered fields, peaceful. Even had peaceful music (well ok, Steve Hackett live, which I find peaceful). The wander in tomorrow could be chilly. I will report later.

Made this dish the other night, which really worked for me. Technically it was advertised as a starter, but it made enough for a main and lunch the next morning. The recipe, which was the base guide, also made the pastry from scratch, you'll notice in my usual slack fashion I've cut that. Oh and bear in mind will take some time from start to finish as you are making the relish from scratch then cooking.

Provencale Vegetable Tart with Feta
Tomato Relish
1T olive oil
1 finely chopped onion
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
4-6 tomatoes chopped
1/2t chilli flakes
1T tomato paste (I used some tinned tomatoes so dropped this)
1 bay leaf
sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper

Heat the oil and saute (gently) the onion and garlic until lightly browned. Add chopped tomatoes, chilli, paste, bay leaf, thyme, and seasoning. Cook at low heat for around 20 minutes until reduced, remove bay and thyme. Leave to cool.

2 medium zucchini chopped
1 eggplant, chopped 3-5mm rounds
1 red capsicum, chopped into strips
1 onion, chopped into 8
olive oil
salt pepper

Place all in a roasting tray, drizzle with oil, season, grill under tender. Toss once to do the other side.

Roll out the pastry to very thin (I had two long ones), spread the relish over the pastry and layer with veges. Place chopped feta (marinated maybe nice) on top and bake at 220C until brown-ing.
Drizzle with olive oil. Serve.

Bit of a note, the chilli comes through well but make sure you can taste it in the relish as it lifts things nicely.

27 November 2010

Rugby Day (pt 1)

Nice snowfall last night meant a reasonably chilly day. It was also ball-numbingly cold last night, a whisky and cigar had seemed a good idea. At the time.

But onto Rugby Day.

Scotland v Samoa
The Scottish resurgence, after the massacre by NZ, did rest on following up the Sth Afr victory with a win over Samoa. Samoa are ranked below Scotland, and as pointed out on the commentary, have a population of 178,000. Which you can halve, since it is a men's sport.
Good game, very tight traditional rugger. I did feel a bit sorry for the Samoan's, Aberdeen wasn't very warm, and even the lights came on at 230pm. Yes. At late lunch time, they switched the lights on.
I enjoyed the game, both teams were messy, but it was good. Scotland's quick lead was eaten away by Samoa who were kicking penalities over (would have helped a bit last week against England). Samoa crawled back to level, and with a couple of minutes to go the game was headed for a draw - which would have been a good, reaosnable result. Sadly, Samoa couldn't keep themselves penalty free, and so Scotland escaped with a, largely undeserved, win.

Wales v New Zealand
 The press has been saying Wales are a good team playing badly. Signs recently haven't convinced me of that. And the Welsh at work were not feeling too happy. Bumped into one of them this morning at the bottlestore before he headed to the game. Either way, I was confident. But the Welsh came to play, even if it was a very ugly game. Boring even. Couple of moments of brilliance, but having to listen to Jonathan Davies whinge about pretty much everything does get to you...
Having a player sent off seemed to fire the team and we scored, and at that point the tide changed. Was all a bit close until the last bit. Didn't help that the unthinkable happened, and Dan missed kicks.

England v South Africa
Heartily sick of the newspapers claiming this is the English rennaissance. Sure they are running the ball, but really a loss to NZ, win against a limited Aus team, and a struggling win over Samoa.
Sth Afr haven't been playing too well, and have suffered thanks to drugs tests and injuries. So the English were confident that they'd clean this one up. First half, Sth Afr forwards were certainly out muscling the english, leading to a two penalties apiece at halftime. Sth Afr defence is playing much better than it has recently, even if players are collapsing at a rate of knots due to injury. But their backs are running nicely, and scoring tries. Yes, I'm liking this result.


23 November 2010

Rugby: last weekend

FFS amazon associates is showing Susan Barf's the Gift (gonnarrea? Aids? chlamydia?) while I type this.

Anyway, with the Autumn Internationals, I have designated Saturday 'Rugby Day', where I sit, nibble food, possibly have a pint, and watch Rugby. I pay S off with food and she stays quiet, mostly.

Wales v Fiji
Just for a lark, I decided to support Fiji. I expected them to get cut to pieces by the mighty Gatland and his semi-competent gunners. What the hell happened? Fiji almost played with structure, and Wales had no clue what was happening. Dropped balls, confusion, a forward pack looking like they'd all been caught in a gay sauna. It wasn't pretty. But to Fiji's credit, they kept tackling the crap out of the Welsh, and it paid off. Enjoyed this game, ugly to watch, but brought back memories of supporting Wellington.  There has been criticism here of Gatland's open bollocking of his players. It seemed more than fair to me.

Scotland v Sth Africa
I know Scotland had been written off after the demolition NZ did on them last week. But really, the clinical precision of the NZ would have ripped any other team to pieces. Therefore my money was on Scotland. As  I mentioned during the 6 nations, they were playing as a team, and were very unlucky to not win more of their games. So as long as that team turned up, they were in with a chance against an understrength Sth African team.
The Scottish sunshine poured down, suiting their rather good first five, Dan Parks, and the forwards held up well against the SA pack. A very well deserved Scottish victory.

England v Samoa
Oh dear god have the papers been full of the English resurgence. I guess they have a point, there is a backline and mobile pack, both of which are foreign concepts forced on a surprised English nation. Samoa were quite unlucky not to do better in this game, if they'd had a better kicker the game would haev been closer. So the upshot is, yes the English are playing much better, but it's not chicken counting time.
As an aside, they are annoying good at peaking at the right time. Does this concern anyone else?

Ireland v NZ
I for one was expecting a re-enactment of the Irish financial situation, with NZ playing the role of the IMF, and Ireland playing the dual role of barrel and people.
Bastards screwed up my plan and played a blinder.
sure they lost, but they looked good doing it. It would have been a much closer match if NZ hadn't got a bit bored just after halftime and blown the Irish out of the water. So big potential for Ireland, although their team is getting on a bit. And, B O'D is still the bomb, sure he's not half as scary as Sonny BW, but he's still got it.


18 November 2010

Bluray and Hawkwind

I admit a certain level of perversity in wishing to have those two subjects in the title.
I managed to flog off my DVD player and upgraded to a Blu-Ray for no particular reason other than it could handle the DTS and SACD better than the Cambridge Audio DVD99 I had. Personally I think the sound from the Cambridge Audio may have been better, but convenience and more formats being handled made the bluray a more sensible option.

And I have to admit the DTS sound works much better with my amp. So all in all, win.

Reasons to buy bluray: Attenborough's Life. Damn was that a great series. I'd caught a couple on TV when it was shown, but had always figured I'd rather watch it in higher def. Glad I did. Brilliant series, and stunning in high def. Dunno what was the most impressive, mainly as it was all damn good. I know I've linked to the US version, but amazon UK has it quite cheap at the moment.
Next up was Watchmen on bluray. Been awhile since I saw it at the Embassy, thought it was an excellent adaptation of the book. Although I can see why people didn't like it. It's not an action movie, which unfortunately most people went in thinking it was. Anyway the bluray looks stunning and the sound was great. Mmm loud.  Haven't started working through the extras, but that's next on the list. It really did set the benchmark for movie adaptations of comics. Although I am enjoying Walking Dead at the moment. It's nothing brilliant, but seems well done.

Hawkwind. How underrated were they? For a band regularly described as a bunch of stoned hippies, they were incredibly tight live (Space Ritual should be your first album). A band for whom the term 'space rock' was invented. Lyrically and musically very tight, and creative. Most people will have heard Silver Machine  or Sonic Attack, but if you like your rock music pretty tripped out, but rocking, go check out their stunning double live 'Space Ritual'. I picked up the Special Edition, which comes with a DVD - which isn't, sadly, a live performance, rather its an audio (maybe 5.1, can't remember) live performance with some trippy visuals. I was rather hoping for a live DVD to watch the band, the large breasted naked dancer, and the visuals. I thought that would be rather superb. So if anyone reading this knows of a DVD performance, feel free to suggest away. By the way, cheaper at amazon.co.uk. Oh I do love this album (it's playing at the moment). Huzzah.


12 November 2010

The ol' home town

What passes for news in New Zealand.

More newsworthy would have been 'Sheep learns to say no', but at least the article puts the size of this bugger in context, 'bigger than an All Black prop'.


1 November 2010

Whisky Show

The Whisky Show

Having won tickets worth 95quid each,it would have been churlish not to attend. And so, early on Sat morning, I found myself on a train heading to London with Alec. We wandered up to the rather lovely venue, The Brewery, picking up our gift bags - tasting glass, bottle of water, meal ticket, and other advertising crap- oh and a token to get an expensive whisky sample.

First impressions, nice relaxed layout and one of the obvious reasons for the increased ticket price was to limit the number of people in the hall. So made for a nice informal vibe. 

Tasting notes start off OK, although I was writing while holding the glass which made life difficult. And after our break for food, I gave up and just noted *most* of those we tried.
Tastings were about 10ml but even so, we got through a fair number…

Entering the hall I went to Bruichladdich first, and we tried their 16yo Cuvee Margaux from their 16yo french oak finishes range, 46%.
N: very sherry, wine, warm
P: warm, sweet, very tasty, sherry
F: medium; wine, sherry
8/10 very lovely warm whisky. could do with a bit more on the finish, but as an excuse to curl up with a whisky, yeah it works.

Headed across to the Bowmore stand, which was quite disappointing with only the 12, 15 and 18 yo standard released. And a salesman who really wasn't interested. Tried the 18yo, 48%

Very sweet whisky, strong chocolate taste on the back of the palate, but hints of salty peat in there too. Both worked nicely as complementary flavours. Finish was very short. 6.5/10

Ohhh look, one of my favourite distilleries is here, Glengoyne. Chatted to the main dude there, explained how much I loved the 20yo single cask I have here. So he said, well then you'll love the 23yo 55% cask we're releasing soon. He was very right.
N: great, candyfloss, foot odour (this is good by the way)
P: sweet, complex, tangy spice, sherry, xmas cake
F: long, spicy. 
Very lovely whisky. 8.5/10 and yes I would like a bottle. They are supposed to be retailing for around 170quid I think. So maybe next year :(

Never heard of them before, which was,of course, red flag to a drinking bull. And since it was still early we had a nice long chat to the Manager. They are an older distillery which was mothballed, which recently re-opened in 2008. So too young for new whisky, but they'd brought down some of their new spirits - including flavourings from bourbon, wine, plain, and a peaty version. Very tasty. 

Glenglassaugh 46% 26yo  150quid
N: complex, wood, sweet sherry
P: sweet, spicy, flavoursome
F: long
8/10 Oddly, for a coastal distillery, there's no hint of salt. But really is beautiful.

One of nice things was the opportunity to try their expensive whisky by using the token. And after some discussion - the Manager saying it's the best whisky in the world, me saying really, how does it compare to Brora 24yo or the Adelphi Whisky that cannot be named etc, we decided to go ahead.
Seeing as we'd spent some time chatting we both got some, and he threw in a sample of the 41yo as well. Result. Although having now had his whisky, I will be buying some when it's released.
So we also tried the 36yo and the 41yo. the 36yo was a very young whisky - sprightly - whereas the 41yo was more a mature form of the 26yo. Which is odd, but worked beautifully. I think I'd agree with the Manager than the 36yo was the better, or at least, the more unique, of the two. Prices were about 500 for the 36 and 1500 for the 41.
I'm picking a 9 or 10/10 for both those.

This is exactly the reason whisky shows are good, I came away from this stand very excited, and very keen to buy their booze when it's whisky. Quite tempted to buy some of their new spirit as well, it's that good. 

Oh damn, next door was my favourite indie bottlers, Adelphi

Even worse, they had a longhorn 18yo 55.6% bottling. Oh well, needs must:
N: toasting marshmallows, cut grass
P: sweet, marshmallows, fluffy!!
F: med
7/10. Very light and drinkable whisky. For breakfast?

We also tried something else, on the lovely ladies suggestion, I think it was a Bunnahabhain that she described as weird and wrong. But I didn't write down which one it was, I'm guessing the 9yo 59.2% from their website. 

Mackay and White has a large stand, covering Jura, Fettercairn and their blends. Figured we should give a couple of the Jura's a go so:
Jura Prophecy 46% - nothing startling.. 6/10
Jura Boutique Barrel Cask. Hint of sulphur, sherry, 8/10  I liked this. At some stage I must get some Jura. 

Fettercairn: another M & W, we tried some. nothing interesting. didn't make any notes, so can't have been any good at all.

Mackay and White blend: 30yo very very good, 9/10. But at around 300quid a bottle, I'd rather get some good single malts.

Like this a lot, 7.5-8/10

We ended up chatting to the boss and letting him pour stuff into our glass, but initially it was a cute blonde. Yes. It's a tough life researching whisky.
Virgin Oak  finish 46% didn't think much of this. 5/10 lacking much flavour.

About this point we decided some food would be a plan. Which the Whisky Show was putting on, I went for a blue cheese and mushroom pie with a pasta side and salad. Superb. Really was. Finished off with a ginger and plum pudding. Yes, again taking a hit for the team.

Back into the fray saw us wander past the big guns stands, momentarily distracted by a very disappointing Clyneish from some double distilled bottler. About 14yo and no flavour. Wankers.

We stood and stared at the one remaining bottle of the worlds most expensive whisky, 100,000 quid. It came with two guards. They looked cheaper, and far less smooth. A 64yo Dalmore.

In a worrying turn, suggestive of some form of cheapskate, Alec declined my magnanimous offer of accepting the bottle if he bought it for me. 

And so, still smarting from his rejection, we went back to the BenRiach/GlenDronagh stand.
We used the other token on the BenRiach 30yo.
N: bland, sherry
P: sweat, honey, fruity
F: punchy, sweet, med-long
9/10 - very lovely whisky, about 170 quid from memory

Next up was the Benriach Solstice, 15yo 51%
N: smoke, ask, peat
P: peat, subtle, port finish
9/10 - this is a new one coming out in a week or so. And I really loved it. To the point where I may pick up a bottle. 

BenRiach : Authenticus, very tasty. Yes notes were getting more vague here.

And since we'd been chatting to the boss of GlenDronagh for some time he said we had to try their expensive one. Naturally we declined. Oh FFS, really, you believed that?

So yeah, around 340quid, very tasty. Full bodied. Brilliant. 

And so, with heavy heart and empty vessels we moved on. I'll definitely be buying some of those two distilleries. Superb stuff.

Oh lookeehere another indie bottler. And a Mortlach. 
Berry's 21yo Mortlach 46%. Not a hugely typical Mortlach,I felt it lacked complexity. But more than adequate. 60quid
Berry's 1971 Invergordon - Grain whisky. 47%.1971. 99quid. Nothing startling, but drinkable.  
Berry's GlenGrant 1972 Speyside 51.8%. Couldn't go past tasting this one, Superb. And probably worth the 140quid.

Springbank, and associated, were next door to Berry's. Saying goodbye to the nice chap at Berry's, who invited us to the store where he works if we wanted to try more, we began exploring Springbank, Kilkerran and Hazelburn.

the Hazelburn Cask strength, 8yo, was superb. Getting two ticks on my new rating system (notes be damned, simply drink, not drink, or much drink).
Kilkerran is the new distillery, and is just coming of age. the 6yo 46% got one tick, but shows much promise.
N: fruit, sweet
P: strong, sherry.
By comparison the Springbank 15yo didn't' get much of a rating from me. Think I'll stick to my 100 proof sitting in the cupboard.

Port Askaig 17yo. Extensive tasting notes = Dead. Port Askaig I've since found out is where Caol Ila is, and just down the road from Bunna'. Recommend you avoid. 

Lg2 : lagavulin, from speciality brands. Meh.

See, never let be said I won't try a blend. This one is based on the dude's (who we were speaking to) Grandfathers blending book. Very nice. Id' be ok with this in my cupboard, there's complexity, warmth, and it's very reasonable at 26quid.
Although I suspect if someone asked me, I'd recommend going for the Adelphi blend, which is slightly cheaper, and possibly better. But it's pretty close.

Highland Park 18yo

Ardbeg of unknown description

Bruichladdich 18

The lovely lass on the Bruichladdich stand was packing up early to catch a flight, and didn't want to take all the bottles. Thankfully I was there to help, and so I now have 1/3rd full bottle of BL 16yo CuveeA (yet to be tasted).

We also picked up a few glasses, to improve our respective collections.

All in all, a superb day. And I think I'll be going next year, even if I have to pay. I think the relaxed environment, and limited numbers, just made it. Great stuff.


31 October 2010

Halloween viewing

Halloween, stupid concept. That may just be cos I'm not allowed to greet children at the door, or rather I am, if I'm clothed. Pah. 
But it gives me an excuse to watch horror movies, and not just Jennifer Anniston. Urgghhh. Shudder. Anyway, it's a quiet day as I was at the Whisky Show yesterday, got home around 930 and fell asleep. No idea why,but a vague report will show up tomorrow. In brief, drank whisky, enjoyed it, scored some glasses, and 1/3 bottle of Bruichladdich. Booyar.

First up, the classic, the original. The weirdly affecting 'Haxan', a doco on witchcraft from 1922, although the copyright free version I downloaded has the worst soundtrack. Someone has dumped a bunch of classical tunes (including Lohengrin, Schubert's 8th "unfinished" etc.), which really don't work. I'd stick to the silent version. The movie is, in places, quite disturbing and it's interesting to consider how some scenes were received when it was first released. It's been years since I've seen haxan (I went through a silent movie phase), but it stands up well. Definitely recommended. And as I said, it's available copyright free from here. 

We've stocked up on horrors, so coming soon will be brief reviews of Let The Right One In, and Bergman's Hour of the Wolf. And Psychoville have a special on tonight.


28 October 2010

slightly pisht post

Well it is Thursday night, which is music night. And it's been an interesting week at work, with two competing job offers. I've tried to play reasonably dumb and innocent for both of them. Which has created no end of consternation. *Result*

So Music Night, what got hit?
Started with the Steven Wilson music doco 'Insurgentes' which i thoroughly enjoyed. It's dark, it's artistic, and I do love Lasse Hoile's design work. Basically it's a 75min rant against the modern music industry, but from a interesting and lucid perspective. Worth a spin. I felt it lost its way near the end, but still recommended.

Enjoyed the bonus disk from the DVD (CD of an unreleased track).

Then onto Pure Reason Revolution DVD which came with the new album, Hammer and Anvil. They started out as a cheesy prog band, but appear to have turned into a mix of prog, Depeche Mode and possibly Prodigy - but all in a good way. I would definitely recommend the new album. The DVD is mainly second album stuff, and is not essential. Actually it was kinda crap. But good enough I may buy the second album. Damnit.

Decided to stick to the DVD theme, and went for IQ live in 2007. Chose about 6 tracks from this then moved Queen 'Sheer Heart Attack' on vinyl. I really love early Queen. Actually I love all era's of Queen, but the visceral passion of the first three albums always works for me. I'm lucky enough to have the Complete Works on vinyl, which is, to quote the Fast Show, nice.

Booze: pint of ginger beer; pint of bitter and twisted (harviestoun); bottle of Spanish red (meh); and now Glenfarclas 105.

Oh bugger, guess I should put some vids in.

26 October 2010

Bear wanna a Granny?

Russian bears are nibbling away in cemeteries due to food shortages.

I quite like that idea, renewable resources and all that.


24 October 2010

Whisky Tasting

I'd been promising one of the work colleagues he could sample a collection of my whiskies, things grew a little and in the end three of us combined bottles for an islands tasting.
Since I'd surprised the wench by taking the week off, I figured escaping for one evening of booze would be fine. *Result*
One of our intrepid band hadn't really had much whisky before, so we were trying to showcase a diverse range of flavours from the islands.
Our tasting was dominated by SMWS bottlings, as is only right and proper, and I would like to apologise in advance that the notes get more 'vague'.

SMWS 53.114 Caol Ila Smoky parma violets 55.2%, 342 bottles, refilled hogshead. 15yo, bottled 2007.

Orders from the bottles owner : we need to finish this one.

Nose: peat, salt, smokey bacon, hint of sweetness
Palate: salt, honey (strong), sugar, sweet, golden syrup
Finish: mid length, warm,hint of tingle.
Rating: 6-7.5/10 (I was more the 7.5 range, but it appeared we had a harsh group)

SMWS 4.131 Highland Park An Artists' Retreat 20yo sherry butt, 60% 542 bottles.
Given how much this bottle costs, we'd decided to drink it early before our palates were destroyed.

Nose: vanilla, sherry, cut grass, turps
Palate: honey, sherry, red wine, currents, xmas cake
Finish: big sherry, very light salt.
Rating: 8.5/10
Really lovely complex full bodied interesting island whisky. It's worth the price too. I liked the hint of salty-ness with the traditional sherry complexity. It worked well, a highlands whisky with island overtones.

Arran Malt - 13yo Sherry finish.
One of mine, so there's been tasting notes on here before.
Nose: sherry, strong, burned rubber, peaches.
Palate: sweet, and other words I can't read.

Generally, it was too simple, had limited complexity, and was probably too young. Which is pretty much what I felt drinking it on it's own. Also with the excellent complexity of the first two, it showed up how light this one is. 5-6/10

SMWS 73.34 Aultmore 16yo refill barrel, 58.9%
Yes, I know it's a Spey, not an island. Words were exchanged with the offender, but being such nice generous fellows we forgave him and drank his booze.

Nose: sweet, fruit, marshmallows, mango, peach, toffee, menthol (esp with addition of water)
Palate: sweet, dessert wine,
Finish: short
Rating: 7-7.5/10
As you can see our intrepid band were getting more creative in their descriptions and appeared to like this sweet whisky. From memory, Aultmore are more known for their contribution to Dewer's, but this cask suggests they are worth finding on their own. Tasty, sweet whisky.

We then had the Lagavulin 16yo as our plan was to round out the tasting with an exploration of Islay whisky's. And let's be honest, the L16yo is as good a place to start as any.

SMWS 3.168 Bowmore After Dark 11yo first fill sherry butt, 58.1% 269 bottles
Nose: leather, wood, tannin/oil, rich, treacle
Palate: smooth, cigars, leather, wood, cognac/brandy
Finish: explodes, but short
No rating on this one. But I'd thrown it in to confound expectations of Islay salty bacon whiskies. On nosing and tasting, you'd think this was a Highland or Spey, and older than 11yo. Lovely stuff.

We then had some Port Charlotte 8 to demonstrate how Bruichladdich can do a heavily peated Islay at cask strength. All liked this.

And then we had the monster.
SMWS 127.3 Port Charlotte Beach BBQ for older boy scouts, 8yo 67%, refill bourbon barrel.
Nose: singed nostrils, bbq meat, hint of sick
Palate: sweet, bourbon, rubber, hint of lime, gin'n'tonic
Finish: massive, rubber, medicinal
Rating 6.5-7.5/10
It is drinkable at cask strength, which prompted one of our panel to say "Good way to go". It's not a relaxing whisky, but if you want a big big Islay, it certainly delivers. It was probably the only thing that could get through the previous whisky in terms of flavour.

Big thanks to our intrepid tasting panel, I suspect the whisky cabal will be assembled again at some point. Especially with the winter weather coming in. Booze good.


23 October 2010

Gigs - Mumford and Sons

Paul and I rocked along to Mumford and Sons the other week, mainly as they were playing in Nottingham and we could drink beer.
The two support bands were good. First up were Matthew and the Atlas (apparently). Kinda hippie, kinda alt rock. Recommended, or at least keep an eye on them.

They didn't have any EPs available, but I might track one down later.

Next up were Johnny Flynn, who I thoroughly enjoyed. I dunno alt-pop? I picked up the new album and have to admit, it's pretty damn good. Being the sucked I am, I did get the 2CD version, but it's thoroughly enjoyable and on the album, the band aren't as frenetic as they were on stage. That was more the result of having a short time on stage, I guess.

Mumford and Sons were disappointing. The couple of tracks I'd heard previously were encouraging, but really they don't do anything new. Even less than recent Keane or Snow Patrol, with whom I guess they'd share a significant audience. There isn't any variation between tracks, and even the new stuff which they were premiering, wasn't any different. We lasted an hour, then wandered off.
Here's the debut single (doubling as the album, if I were cynical).


21 October 2010

Movies : Birdemic ; Boy ; Fish Tank

To start with a diversion, Jonathan Franzen is being lauded for his new book 'Freedom', having it described as the great American novel.  To those heights, I'd like to add Birdemic. At the base level, the story revolves around bird attacks, and love. The birds make the viewers use their imagination, stretch their minds, project themselves into the movie. What I found visionary was the tying together of history, green issues, and biology. Characters are well developed, although playing Everyman they are allowed to breath and express themselves to an unusually high degree. Aside from the green plot, there's also a higher subtext of either political (republican/democrat) or religious, depending on your interpretation.
There's more than one way to kill a bird/republican/religious zealot, and the movie explores concepts of freedom within a capitalist world.
Highly recommended.

Finally got to see this - thanks to Suz sending it over on DVD. Starts off well, very funny in places, but loses story and generally seems to meander to a largely unsatisfactory ending. I dunno, I really wanted to like it, but found it disappointing. It is a sweet story about a daydreamer (Boy) and his deadbeat Dad who appears when his G'ma goes off for a tangi (yeah it is a bit forced). Acting is excellent, music is good (well it is the phoenix lads), just ultimately unsatisfying.

Fish Tank
If it's all about realism, then Fish Tank is a winner. Social realism on a very depressing scale, to the point that Ken Loach is generally more uplifting. There were moments of comic relief, but it's not a happy movie. And definitely not Hollywood.Acting is superb, and you definitely need to see this movie. But bear in mind, the news will be a welcome happy relief.


8 October 2010

Whisky : SMWS 3.168

It's fair to say distillery 3 is rather popular if they're up to cask 168. It's also fair to say 3 is a very well known and respected Islay (Bowmore).
So cask 168, it's been bottled at 11 years, 58.1%, 1st fill sherry butt, and only 269 bottles. One reason it interested me was that the sherry finish Islay appealed.

Nose: sherry, sweet, rubber, sweet, cucumber, glue, very dark colour, no hint of salt or bacon

Body: ahhh there's the salt, raisins, sherry, hint of pepper, honey

Finish: spicy, heat builds, long raisin finish

It's not an Islay, at least not as you'd know one. I would have liked more salt coming through, but it is a very strong sherry cask, hiding most of the salt/bacon. I would have guessed a Spey or Highland, but close to the coast.
So definitely worth it for interest value, taste is interesting, warming and different. This should go down well at our tasting.
Rating: hmmm actually tricky 8/10. It's like the nose promises more than it delivers, but it is very very good. Strange. But then, that's the point of the SMWS.

7 October 2010

Whisky : SMWS 127.3

Currently it's hell at work. 10-12 hour days, far too many people have left stuff to the last minute, and I have to pick up the slack. I'm likely to comment on that in the weekend. Although I've also got the Freshers Fair on Sunday, so not sure when I'll get a chance.
But it's music night. And I've dedicated the evening to Floyd and Waters. Brilliant.

The SMWS have just released their first two bottlings from a new distillery, number 127. And to say I was excited may understate things a touch, for this is the manly Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte. Of whom I've raved about before. So the thought of the SMWS bottling PC really popped my cherry. They released two bottlings, 127.1 and 127.3. Sadly all of .1 were gone, but I managed to get a bottle of .3 'Beach BBQ for older boy scouts'
Both bottlings were limited to 235 bottles. .3 is an 8yo, bourbon cask, weighing in at 67% (WTF!). First notes are at bottling strength. Pt2 are with water, which it needs.

Nose: rubber, salt, vanilla, smoke.  (2)smoother, sweeter nose, vanilla, rubber, grass

Taste: salt, pepper, smoke, very strong,   (2) prickly (but drinkable), salt is stronger, fiery on the tongue, taste of furniture polish?, very warming, 

Finish: huge. fiery, salty, smokey. goes for years.(2) the smoke seemed to disappear, but the flavour and warmth seemed to last longer and turn into honey.

It's fair to say this is a monster. It is the biggest whisky I own, and blows the PC6/7/8 out of the water (hehe) for sheer stupidly huge Islay-ness. There's little of the complexity the PC's were showing, or rather, developing. But for all that, it is an interesting whisky, and with water, it opens up. What appears to be its strong point is the finish. It's massive, but becomes sweeter, literally like warm honey in your throat. Weird, but lovely. 
Going to give this one a 8.5/10. I'm glad I have a bottle.

Speaking of whisky tasting, we've gather a bunch of whisky lads at work, and willbe having a tasting soon. the line-up, as planned by two us, will focus on islands (not just Islay's) and I'll post some reviews up later.

3 October 2010

Ads in papers

I'll admit that it's probably sad, but keeping an eye on what ads are placed with various feature articles, suggests advertising space in papers is purchased at random.

The Observer had the first of a series by Stephen Pax Leonard (who the hell calls their kid Pax?) concerning the effect of melting ice on the villages and life of Greenland's Inughuit people. It's interesting, depressing, and will probably be a really good series.
But that's not the point.

Tucked at the end of the article was a 'reader offer' for a dehumidifier to eliminate damp, condensation and mildew.


2 October 2010

Monkey balls

Don't ask why, but I just came across a recipe for a cocktail 'The Monkey Scrotum'.

1 part lemon juice
1 part cointreau
1/2 part dark rum
dash bitters
tsp brown sugar


Crush the mint with the sugar and add the lemon juice. Top up to half of the glass with ice. Pour rum and Cointreau over ice and mix thoroughly.

Now I'm sure you all appreciate where I could have gone for pictures...

1 October 2010

The New Barbarians

I considered a quirky indie flick, but it's been a week of nightmares at work, so headed for Bgrade-ness, and one with Fred Williamson in it too- The New Barbarians. An Italian-USA production, guess that makes it a spaghetti-calypse.

2019 the nuclear apocalypse is over. There are dead puppets masquerading as bodies scattered, and a man who looks rather like one of the elves in Lord of the Rings heads up the baddies. There is slowmotion falling out of small stunt cars, sound effects not out of place on a handheld 80s comp game,and people falling over what look like kegs. Random.
It's fair to say, 10 minutes in, this makes MadMax look like Tarkovsky. Which, in many respects, is an incredible achievement. Oh and I don't think Fred's turned up yet, but what's this a green glowing light on a car? could it be? no. It's a Mel Gibson look a like. The dialogue is so stilted, John Holmes would would be looking embarrassed. So all in respects, this movie is delivering on it's promises. Hmmm the Mel Gibson look a like is actually more similar to Anthony Bourdain. 

Most of the movie has been shot in a gravel pit and explores the deep and meaningful issues of human extermination, love, loners - in general, the human condition.The hero loves, he longs for civilisation, and still has a green glowing car. The car gives KITT a run for it's money, the doors fly off and explode under other cars. Well a small explosion anyway, with a disproportionate effect. Ooohhh Bourdain just did a slow-motion run and jump!!! It's all looking very dire for our hero, but wait, whose that with a explosive bow and arrow?

The Templars (baddies) appear to have been kitted out at a BnD/Imperial Stormtrooper store. Which is all a bit confusing, but their long smouldering looks at each other (all guys) avoid dialogue, which is a good thing. Things potter along, with various rescues, emo encounters, a raid on the good guys camp. 
Fred follows his usual method of acting, not to be confused with method acting, and brings a level of campness to every scene. A poignant scene involves the Stormtroopers lining up the good guys against the wall, not only of the human condition, but also critiquing human history. This movie has it all, including a 10yo mechanic who dispenses philosophical advice.
Ohhh superb dialogue 'Scorpion, what are you here for?' 'I am here to kill you.'. In excellent bgrade fashion, one arrow kills 6 people. 

Well that was fun, very bad, and mercifully short.

me x

27 September 2010

Also sprach Zarathustra

Listening to some funk tonight, the Blaxploitation Vol 1 album in fact. Just love this track, so here's the video. All 9 glorious minutes of it.

26 September 2010

Biking to Leicester

I woke up full of enthusiasm to do something this morning. Since it was overcast and looking like rain, I decided to bike to Leicester, just to find out how long it took.
Yesterday was a gorgeous day,which explains why I went for a bike ride today. Idiot. Anyway, it takes an hour from my house to the centre of Leicester. Co-incidentally the same amount of time as the bus from my place to Leicester. Yes go figure that one. The route is pretty similar, the bus takes a couple of detours to other small villages, but largely it's the same - and they run along the A6 for a bit.
It's not a very picturesque ride, the two highlights being Quorn and Montsorrel, both quite pretty villages. Quorn in particular - and it's got some nice pubs/restaurants. I like Quorn, we stayed there when I first came over, it did set the bar high which everywhere else around here has failed to live up to. Wankers.

I was quite organised this time too, even had a jacket with me. Which came in useful on the ride back when it started raining, and with a headwind that popped out of no-where. Damn you Aeolus. Temperature was chilly, and my tootsies were frozen by the time I got to Leicester (no matter how bad Phoenix is, it's still better than Leicester...). Poor tootsies.
Around Montsorrel on the way home, my knee decided to suffer some form of blowout. This made peddling a little tricky. But I made it back, and am now consoling myself with cake (see yesterdays recipe), coffee (Havana - thanks Adders), Ella Fitzgerald singing Cole Porter, and copious amounts of deep heat. But not on a broomhandle.

Couldn't find a video for the ones I wanted, or rather couldn't find a video that wasn't totally naff, so have this one instead.

25 September 2010

Cooking with Bruce: Rendang and whisky cake

I just about followed two recipes today!! I've had some whisky tasters lying around which I'd had about half of the 50ml, and couldn't face more. So had vague ideas of using them for cooking. And voila, a ginger and whisky cake recipe turned up in the Guardian today. And very tasty it is too.

Here's a picture before a knife (and me) attacked it.

And for dinner I've made a seafood rendang (the recipe was originally for chicken, so I've included it as is). From Delicious and Atul Kochhar.

Chicken Rendang

3 lemongrass stalks, 5-6 shallots chopped, 3 garlic cloves,chopped, 1t tumeric powder, 1T chopped galangal, 3 dried red chillies. Blend all in processor or mortar and pestle with a bit of water to make a paste.

Heat 3T peanut oil over a high heat, and saute 5cm cinnamon stick, 3 star anise, 6 green cardomon pods (bruised) for two minutes. Stir in the paste and cook until the oil separates from the paste.
Add 600ml coconut milk, 1 piece asam gelugor (or 1-2t tamarind paste), 1t palm sugar, 4 kaffir lime leaves. Simmer until liquid reduced by half, then add 500ml chicken chopped into 1cm squares, simmer for 30 minutes until well cooked.
Remove whole spices, asam gelugor and lime leaves and serve on rice.

Currently being eaten, and being washed down by Marston Pedigree. Mainly as it's the first beer I grabbed, yes I have more of them in the fridge! Thanks to a nice man called Craig who delivered my groceries. Thanks Craig!

23 September 2010

Random giggage

My upcoming gig, Justin Townes Earle, has been cancelled. Justin is son of Steve Earle, and like a chip off the old block has some addiction issues to deal with. He was a little drunk the other week at a gig in Indianapolis, and has cancelled the rest of his tour (including theUK dates) to head to rehab. Always good for the artist CV. 
It's a shame as his most recent album is a bit good, and I was looking forward to dragging S up to see him.
I guess when the gig refund comes through, I can buy the vinyl instead. Mmmm vinyl.

Speaking of which, I am liking the resurgence of vinyl, Grinderman, The Weakerthans, Pineapple Thief, Porcupine Tree, Oceansize - all new releases on vinyl. But what is really good, is inclusion of:
- download code for a high quality mp3s (Pineapple Thief)
- inclusion of a CD version with the vinyl (Oceansize, Grinderman)
- DVD of the vinyl live gig, and mp3 download (The Weakerthans)


Half the A-team and I wandered to Dimmu Borgir on Tuesday night. Support was by Sahg, a Norwegian metal group - nothing stunning, with the singer sounding like Ozzy (when Ozzy could sing). We caught half their set, and that was enough.
Enslaved were the main support, another Norwegian black/extreme/progressive metal band, making this a Norwegian metal triptych. I like them, but have only heard Vertebrae, with their breakout 'single' Clouds on it. They played a good selection of their albums, and it was good. I can see myself buying more. Sound was good, nicely balanced, although I think we both would have preferred more of the clean vocals. The cookie monster stuff did detract a little from some, frankly, superb musicianship.

I've mentioned Dimmu Borgir before, many times. I like my metal, and I really like symphonic black metal. It is one of the only genres where truly progressive music can be heard. Some metalheads don't like it, finding it too slow. Which is kind of the point. And DB are the top of the genre, which showed during the gig. Superb musicianship, brutal, atmospheric, great stage presence.  Sound was excellent, not too loud, brilliantly balanced, no distortion, so no loud ringing noises the next day. Crowd was totally up for it, and something about metal crowds, no-one is there to be seen. It's all about the music - a bit rare for London audiences. Their keyboardist needs special mention, he's a monster and there was some stunning stuff coming from him - a newbie as the band replaced two members last year. There's a strong element of pisstaking by the band, stage design and song delivery is very over the top, operatic even. And the band appear to playing to that. 
Definitely recommend catching them live if you like metal. It was an excellent gig.

Currently spinning Bob Dylan, heh variety eh.


19 September 2010

Cooking with Bruce: Prawn, fettucine, roast peppers

This time I haven't changed a thing, and so it's a simple link to a Cuisine recipe. It epitomises everything that's good about Italian cooking; simplicity, speed, and clean tastes. The simple cream based recipe works well with anything, seafood, chicken, vegetables - and I've found lowfat cream (well yeah ok it's UHT) works fine too. That was an accidental find, I'd grabbed the wrong one. But it all tasted the same.

I'm washing it down with a Melton Red from the local Belvoir brewery. It's not too bad, quite bitter in aftertaste, hints of citrus on the palate and nose, finish is very dry so suspect the hops rating is reasonably high. I found it at the local Tesco's, which saved me biking out there - something I had been considering. Good enough that I'll try others from the brewery, but not this one. 2.5/5.


What I've learnt this week

That, indirectly, the Nazi's are to blame for everything. EggsBene has been over in the UK laying out phat beats from the popemobile888. Actually trying to find a full copy of what he said has proven difficult, and I don't care, but in essence denial of a fictional figure, a delusion, is the cause of the worlds ills. BasicBene wants us all to have some form of faith, and from that the other delusion, a decent society, will emerge. It seems to me, his decent society and the Tories could be quite similar, white, middle-class, in other words the usual.
Somehow the Royal Mail misplaced my invite for an audience with the pope.

Yes OK, I just wanted to put that link in.

Todays Observer had a few interesting articles in it. Usual overtly leftie handwringing, which is why I generally skip it, but it was the food issue (as long as you avoid the ethical sourcing tirade, it's ok), so picked it up.
An article describing the changing approach to children's TV caught my eye. Apparently by 6yo, children have watched a year of TV. Depressing. I've taken to switching it off more and more. As my lastFM daily numbers will attest. Apparently there was far more thought into PlaySchool than you'd imagine, and that the crew had bets on which window they'd zoom through. Awesome (actually that bit would tie in with EggsBene, betting and rugby, two Catholic staples). Admittedly I know very little about children, even less about entertaining them (waddya mean Jodorwsky isn't 'appropriate'), but what I do recognise is that that article reflects findings in apes. Both in behaviour and actions, human juvenile behaviour and stimulation is very similar to apes. As you'd expect.
What surprised me is that this stuff is trotted out all the time in ape literature, but apparently is new and revolutionary in humans. Typical.